4 Sneaky Little Words To Keep Your Marketing Compliant
In the world of marketing, business owners view the internet as the main, or only, way of doing business.
The internet has come a long way, but it’s important to remember we’re roughly still in the first 2 decades of its existence and in many ways, we’ll look back at this era as the “wild west” of internet marketing.
But the rules are changing and getting stronger all the time. Business owners struggle to keep up, and there are multiple layers or rules and regulations out there when it comes to marketing.
Not only is there truth-in-advertising, credit, and privacy standards that apply to all businesses, they also have stiff rules and compliance guides for certain industries, especially health.
Why Is Compliance Important?
It’s important, because the cost of having marketing that isn’t compliant can come at a huge cost for your business.
Failure to comply with some of these regulations can result in heavy fines and sanctions. For example, certain tobacco companies have been fined for as much as $20 million for marketing to young audiences, and advertisers who break the rules of the FTC could end up paying a fine of $16,000 per day per ad.
A $16,000 slap on the wrist for big boys like Tobacco or Johnson & Johnson might not be much to them, but I’m willing to bet for most business owners it would put a hefty dent in your campaign ROI or worse….put you out of business entirely.
So what’s a frontiersman or woman to do in these days where nothing seems to be black or white?
Well, for starters, it means keeping a close eye on your marketing and messaging to make sure you’re well within the guidelines.
You’re a business owner with good products who help people get what they want, and you’d never allow any marketing to hit the presses that was misleading or untrue right?
Of course not, but unfortunately it’s not that simple. Without knowing the ins and outs of the regulations, you might be running afoul without even knowing it.
That being said, below are 4 very common words that could save your butt when it comes to compliance.
This is an important one, and likely one you already use a lot in your marketing, especially if you’ve got a health business or a supplement product. The word supplement literally means “in addition to” and the word support often works as a good substitute for that.
For example, if you were selling a memory supplement, something like...
“Cerebrenol will increase your healthy brain function and improve your memory”
...might not sound so bad. You may even have studies and plenty of research to back that claim up.
Unfortunately, that’s often not enough for the FTC when they come knocking. But inserting the word "support" in that sentence so that it reads...
“Cerebrenol supports healthy brain function and improved memory”
...will likely do just enough to keep you in the safe zone. Plus, it doesn’t hurt the significance of the claim as your customers will still see it as a benefit or solution to their specific problem.
This is one I know you’ve seen or used several times.
“Breakthrough diet MAY help you lose weight faster than before!”
“Revolutionary new supplement MAY end the need for prescription painkillers”
"May" is a great word when you’ve got enough supporting evidence to make the claim, but it’s not as strong as you’d like it to be.
This will help keep your feet out of the fire as you’re not explicitly telling your customer that this WILL solve their problem, but that it MAY bring them closer to what they’re looking for.
I know, it’s not as strong or sexy as making that big bold promise, but those extra conversions you make with the big claim versus the compliant one would have serious consequences for your business. In my view, it’s just not worth the risk.
3. Helps to...
Ok, so this one is technically 2 words. "Helps to" functions the same as supports and gets even better when you use them together.
“Helps to support healthy blood flow to your muscles and joints.”
While this would really be playing it safe, depending on your product or research, safe is exactly where you want to be.
We know that no product is going to work exactly the same for everyone. Especially in niches such as weight loss or bodybuilding.
But if you have tangible, scientifically proven results that it does work for some, than the word "COULD", could become your new best friend.
“Cerebrenol COULD be the memory loss solution that solves all your brain function problems.”
This one gets a little bit more tricky because you’ll need to be careful that you aren’t implying or planting in your customer's mind that it WILL do these things beyond a shadow of a doubt, but rather that it could do the things you claim it does.
Of course, it’s crucial to have evidence that it has, indeed, done what you claim it can, but I think that goes without saying.
The Importance Of Coloring Inside The Lines
It’s true that it’s impossible to monitor everything that happens online. So the FTC has historically only made examples of big brands, in order to scare everyone into compliance.
They view these companies as the big boys, and typically send a small fine or a cease and desist order to small companies.
After all, there’s not point in the FTC bringing a lawsuit against a company that doesn’t have the revenue to pay. But, there’s nothing to stop them making an example of your company, or anyone else’s.
Ultimately, complying with the FTC guidelines is just smart business. Misleading your prospects, customers, and clients – even inadvertently – can lead to the kind of networked word of mouth that buries your business instead of building it.
Consider working with a copywriter who understands the FTC rules and regulations for the industry you’re in.
The rules are different for each market so it’s important to find a writer or marketer who’s well versed and most importantly has experience writing FTC compliant copy.
An expert like this will understand the delicate balance of writing marketing that keeps your customers coming back, and keeps the regulators off your back.
Think of a copywriter like car insurance. It’s pretty unlikely you’re going to need to follow the rules every single time, but it’s always a good idea to be covered, just in case.
If you’re currently looking for that type of expertise in marketing, and you don’t feel like heading back to Google to sift through the mountain of writers out there, you can schedule a call with me by clicking the link below.
It’s free and we’ll spend 30 minutes talking about your current marketing and where it stands in terms of compliance. If I can offer any advice on how to make it stronger without breaking the rules, I will.
Thanks for reading and we’ll talk soon.